Sometimes Things Aren't Exactly Black and White

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Every parent faces the problem of the tough moral conversation, ones where the utmost discretion is required. The briefest hesitation or misstep can damage relationships or worse. It is crucial that a parent play these seminal moments exactly right, or later in life your child will second-guess your knowledge, experience, and character.

A few years ago, I had just such a critical conversation with my son, who was playing with some Batman and Mr. Freeze Legos that I keep in my office for days when his pre-school schedule got jacked.

He had just positioned Batman in his modified Batmobile then looked up up and said, "Dad, does Batman  lie?" Ike was staring at me unflinchingly across his glasses, a gesture acquired from me, which I acquired from my mother.

I measured my words carefully, knowing that my son was aware that I have a dozen toy Batmobiles, and I have written and presented two scholarly papers on Batman.

"Ike," I said, "Batman is the kind of hero who will do whatever it takes to catch a bad guy."

Ike compressed his lips and cocked his head at me, a cross between the RCA dog and Andy Sipowicz. "So, um..." he said, pushing up his glasses with two fingers. "Does Batman lie?" He leaned on the word "lie" like he was pulling nails with it.

"Yes," I said, when I could wait no longer. "Batman lies."